As undergrads, UVA alumni Sam and Jennifer Tarry each came to walk the Lawn by two different paths: Sam (A&S ‘91) earned his degree via the College of Arts & Sciences; Jennifer (McIntire ’91), through the Commerce School. They found that the resulting differences between what they learned from their four years at UVA—as it related to business knowledge—would later serve as a factor for choosing to establish the Samuel and Jennifer Tarry McIntire Business Institute Scholarship.
“As much as the College taught me, I never took an Accounting or Finance class before graduation. By the time I was 25, I knew that was a deficit—even in the practice of law,” says Sam, who went on to earn his J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law and is now a Litigation Partner at McGuireWoods LLP.
Upon graduating from McIntire, Jennifer worked for a software company, then moved into investment banking before taking what she calls a “first retirement” to stay home with their three then-young children. When the Tarry kids reached high school age, she pursued her MBA at the University of Richmond, a process of returning to the world of academia that the Assistant Treasurer at Luck Stone Companies says was greatly eased by the many experiences she had while attending the Comm School. “The McIntire degree equipped me to excel even after that long layoff.”
Recognizing non-Commerce students’ general lack of business understanding, the couple were driven to act. They quickly decided to support students completing coursework in the liberal arts by providing an opportunity to fortify their degrees, specifically, Sam says, by augmenting their education with McIntire’s Certificate in Business Fundamentals.
“We knew immediately that’s where we could make a real impact in young adult lives. And to the extent it puts graduates on a more prosperous path, we hope it might have a ripple effect on giving.”
Indispensable Business Intelligence
Indeed, the certificate program (also known as “MBI”) provides a wide-ranging and succinct curriculum that offers non-business majors a solid business base. And in establishing the Samuel and Jennifer Tarry McIntire Business Institute Scholarship, the couple is also helping the School meet multiple priorities for its Inspire the Next Century campaign. Some of these crucial needs include scholarship support for an increasing number of students—both Comm third- and fourth-years as well as their non-McIntire peers; support is also responsible for forging important cross-curricular connections between McIntire and other schools on Grounds.
The Tarrys’ scholarship has already been put to important use, as its first recipient, Tenisha Alston (A&S ’21), says it allowed her to gain foundational knowledge about crucial business topics that she never would have learned about otherwise.
“Before the MBI program, I had so many ideas that I had no clue how to manifest or sustain. The scholarship provided me with the tools to make my entrepreneurial and nonprofit goals a reality,” Alston says.
As a double-major in Media Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality, she was interested in undertaking the program to build upon her skill set, which she expected would make her more employable. But that lone goal quickly multiplied.
“Getting into MBI and mapping out the things I wanted to learn, I realized they had so much more to offer me than what I’d initially thought,” she says, pointing out that she found one of its most valuable aspects was the give-and-take of collaboration and interaction: sharing her perspectives and learning from her peers. “It was a gift that I didn’t know I needed.”
Now with Virginia College Advising Corps as a First-Year Adviser at the public high school in Charles City, VA, Alston says that MBI is already proving itself useful in her position. She indicates that coursework in organizational behavior has proved particularly valuable in assisting students from diverse backgrounds to socialize with each other through the discussions she regularly facilitates. She also credits the communication and professional writing portions of the program with preparing her to craft her school’s social media posts; she calls the finance and accounting she’s learned nothing short of “lifesaving” for helping budget events.
It’s that critical type of exposure to and familiarity with core business topics that has also been the impetus behind McIntire advancing plans to extend its ability to prepare all University students for their future careers. The School is in the process of developing a Commerce minor to more fully address the business education needs of students pursuing non-business-related majors.
Jennifer notes that the ability to take active steps toward improving economic and financial literacy among graduates of the College was a prime motivation in how they chose to give at McIntire.
“Those students who gain a deep understanding of how our free enterprise system works will be the ones with the best chance to continue improving it. They’ll be the ones best equipped to put ideas into action—whether in the form of businesses or nonprofits. They’ll be better prepared to advance human progress.”
Sam says that he and Jennifer appreciate the importance of basic business knowledge and economic understanding, as those subjects relate to the success in their own careers. He explains the purpose behind their involvement in previously funding the Elzinga Chair at the College; it, along with their McIntire gift, symbolizes the couple’s decision to show their thanks by giving back to both of the schools that were instrumental in their own professional advancement.
The Tarrys’ generous $125,000 gift dedicated to scholarships for the certificate program champions the future of students from across Grounds who wish to enhance their UVA education through the innovative learning experiences in business only made possible by the Commerce School. Their dedication, and the commitment of other alumni who have joined them in this mission, has helped ensure the strides necessary to bolster the Inspire the Next Century campaign and safeguard the future of McIntire.